Beach crime wave

* Noordhoek beach has been plagued by violent attacks on beach-goers.

Despite another violent attack on a tourist near the Kakapo shipwreck on Noordhoek Beach, SANParks is convinced that it has a well development crime prevention strategy and is seeing the results.

The incident brings the number of attacks to 17 in the past 70 days, according to Table Mountain Watch.

Following the stabbing of a 39 year-old Canadian citizen on Saturday, January 6, the Echo requested a detailed description from SANParks of the strategies currently in place to safeguard visitors to the beach.

SANParks spokeswoman, Merle Collins, said Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) management could not provide this information as it could potentially jeopardise operations.

However, she said they had a dedicated safety team in place which was responsible for visitors’ safety and that since 2010, contact crime in the park has dropped significantly. The team covers beaches in the TMNP district, including Noordhoek.

Ocean View station commander, Lieutenant Colonel Monwabisi Buzwayo, said the victim was walking alone on the beach around 7pm when he was approached by two men.

The men demanded his cellphone, wallet, jacket and car keys and stabbed him eight times before making off with his belongings, including his rental car.

Table Mountain Watch spokesman, Andre van Schalkwyk, said the victim was stabilised at the scene and was taken to False Bay hospital for medical attention.

“Most of the wounds were superficial and one of the wounds which we thought might have punctured his lung, didn’t but it was close,” he said.

Mr Van Schalkwyk said the car has subsequently been located and was brought to the hospital.

According to Table Mountain Watch, in 2017 there were 40 attacks in the Table Mountain area, involving 91 victims – the highest number of victims recorded since this set of statistics first started being gathered in 1998.

Mr Van Schalkwyk said he was concerned about the lack of warning signs at the beach.

“There is nothing on the beach that indicates to a tourist that the beach is a crime hot spot,” he said.

In December, an Austrian couple were attacked at the same location and were also violently stabbed. They ended up in the Melomed Tokai Hospital.

Mr Klaus Michl, 63, sustained wounds to his chest and one to his stomach while his wife, Johanna Michl, 68, sustained a neck wound which narrowly missed her carotid artery (“Attacked couple thankful to be alive,” Echo December 7, 2017).

Mr Van Schalkwyk said the attacks were becoming more violent every time and more visible policing was needed.

At the time, Ms Collins confirmed that safety on the beach was the responsibility of SANParks and that it had adapted its safety and security plan following the attack on the Michl couple.

Chairperson of the Chapman’s Peak Neighbourhood Watch, Dr John Parker, said it was clear that the adapted safety and security measures were not effective.

He said the watch felt that current strategies in place were not significant enough to make a difference and the lack of coordination with SAPS is another concern.

“The watch remains committed to assist where they can once all the parties have come up with a detailed plan,” he said. Dr Parker fears it is just a matter of time before someone is killed if action is not taken soon.

Ms Collins said other safety measures the park has in place across the TMNP area include a ranger corps with law enforcement and a dog unit consisting of 12 trained dogs.

She said the park was also a member of the Table Mountain Safety Forum. Other members of this forum are SAPS, the Department of Community Safety, the Metro Police, Law Enforcement and Civil Society.

Lieutenant Colonel Buzwayo said a case of robbery had been opened but no arrests have been made.